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Voices of ConscienceRoyal Confessors and Political Counsel in Seventeenth-Century Spain and France$
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Nicole Reinhardt

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198703686

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198703686.001.0001

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Favourites and Confessors

Favourites and Confessors

(p.218) 10 Favourites and Confessors
Voices of Conscience

Nicole Reinhardt

Oxford University Press

The emergence of royal favourites in the seventeenth century is largely interpreted as a phenomenon linked to state-building, centralization, and the need to distance monarchs from the murky business of the distribution of favours. Based on the observations of chapters 8 and 9, this chapter analyses and explains the parallel rise of royal confessors. The suggestion is that the confessors’ involvement in matters of distributive justice helped to render the modernizing interventions of favourites acceptable. On the other hand, in the name of the principle of distributive justice confessors could also intervene in factional struggles to topple favourites, especially in Spain. In France, conversely, Richelieu in 1637 achieved a decisive victory over the confessor by redefining royal conscience narrowly to exclude confessors as legitimate political counsellors for the future. However, with the disappearance of royal favourites around the 1650s, the role of confessors came under new and critical scrutiny.

Keywords:   royal favourites, state-building, centralization, distributive justice, patronage

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